ALGERIA/MOROCCO -Algeria and Morocco, Africa’s key players in the wheat trade have abandoned French wheat for Russian wheat following increasingly deteriorating relations between the North Africa nations with France, the Ecofin Agency has reported.

Alexandre Marie, chief analyst for Agritel (Argus Media France), told the agricultural news daily Terre-Net, on the sidelines of a conference organized in Paris on August 24 that France should ship 4.3 million tonnes of common wheat to Algeria and Morocco in 2023/2024.

This stock would represent 45% of the export potential to third countries during the said campaign which will end by next June, but would remain below the level of 7 million tonnes exceeded regularly between 2013/2014 and 2019/2020.

French wheat exports to these two countries have therefore fallen drastically in recent years, these regions that consume the most wheat in the world head to Russia for their imports.

Worst still, the objective of 4.3 million tonnes is not guaranteed. It will first depend on the ability of operators in France to be competitive throughout the campaign, in order to win back these two traditional markets which are experiencing various changes.

According to the analyst, in Algeria, French wheat which once crushed other origins is no longer on conquered ground since the modification by the authorities in 2021 of the tolerance rates for pinned grains which opened the doors to suppliers from the Black Sea, the most important of which, Russia.

On the Moroccan side, the National Interprofessional Office for Cereals and Legumes (ONICL) modified its wheat export refund system last July, a decision that encourages local players to obtain supplies from the Black Sea.   

“Between May and July, French wheat was not competitive. Far from there. The differences sometimes exceed US$40/tonne in favor of Russian origin. French wheat was not capable of filling export order books to third countries,” explained Mr. Marie.  

The analyst noted that the decline of French wheat in these two North African countries does not only respond to economic issues. It is also one of the consequences of the deterioration of diplomatic relations between France and Morocco and, to a lesser degree, those of France with Algeria.

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